13th August is observed every year as World Organ Donation Day. NGOs, hospitals, health professionals globally spread the message of the importance of organ donation.

What is an Organ Donation?

This is the process of surgically removing an organ or tissue from one person (the organ donor) and placing it into another person (the recipient). Transplantation is necessary because the recipient’s organ has failed or has been damaged by disease or injury.

Types of Organ Donation:

This is divided into two categories:

Living Donation: A living donation takes place when a living person donates an organ (or part of an organ) for transplant to another person. The living donor can be a family member, such as a parent, child, grandparent  or grandchild, brother or sister, (living related donation). It can also come from someone who is emotionally related to the recipient, such as a good friend, a relative, a neighbour or an in-law (living unrelated donation).

Deceased Cadaver Donation: In this the patient has to register in a hospital that does transplants. The patient will be put on a wait list and as and when the organ is available from an appropriate deceased donor (brain dead) the patient will be informed.

What Can be Donated:
  • Deceased organ donors can donate kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, pancreas, intestines can be donated.
  • Tissue donation refers to a process by which a deceased person donates parts of his/her body (e.g., skin, heart valves, ligaments, bones, veins, corneas, etc.) for use in transplant procedures in order to repair various defects, injuries, and so forth.
  • Blood Stem cells, cord blood, and Bone Marrow is also donated. In order for this to be successful the patient and the blood stem cell donor must have a closely matched tissue type  or human leukocyte antigen (HLA).
Organ Donation and India:

The organ donation numbers of India are extremely poor as with over 5 lakh people die every year in India awaiting an organ transplant. This is especially unfortunate given the fact that an organ donor can help save up to 8 lives.

Sadly the lack of awareness, incorrect information and various myths leads to very few signing up for Organ Donation. Despite India being the world’s second most populous country, it has a deceased organ donation rate of just 0.26 per million population.

Organ Donation, Some Facts:
  • In India, organ donations are legal under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act (THOA), 1994, that also legalises the concept of ‘brain death’, a permanent cessation of all brain functions.
  • In brain death, a person cannot sustain life, but vital body functions can be maintained in an ICU. Such patients are kept on artificial life support so that the organs are in a healthy condition.
  • Brain death is not the same as coma, which is a state of deep unconsciousness where the brain continues to function without external help. 
  • In India, a panel of doctors examines the and conducts a series of tests before declaring the patient as brain dead.
Who Can Donate an Organ?
  • Organ donation can be done irrespective of age.
  • For organ donation after death, a medical assessment will be done to determine what organs can be donated. 
  • Most medical conditions allow an organ donation, however the doctor takes the final call.
  • Certain conditions, such as having HIV, actively spreading cancer, or severe infection would exclude organ donation.
Inform Your Family

As per law, organ and tissue donation cannot take place in India without the written consent of the donor’s family. Therefore, donors should help their families understand the reason behind their decision to be an organ donor. Timely intimation is required for your family to take the right decision in your absence. Even if you have pledges your organs, the hospital cannot take any action unless your family gives their consent. Hence it is important to discuss your wish to donate with your family. This is to enable your family to carry out your wishes in case the need arises.

Take a step further towards organ donation, pledge to donate your organs today. This is the noblest decision which helps humanity. Please visit the below website for more details on Organ Donation:  www.organdonationday.in

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